Over at Stop the Drug War, Scott Morgan blogs about one victory in the generally luckless (and damnably destructive) War on Drugs: the near-eradication of the American asparagus industry. Some details, via a Seattle Times story:
The [U.S. asparagus] industry has been decimated by a U.S. drug policy designed to encourage Peruvian coca-leaf growers to switch to asparagus. Passed in 1990 and since renewed, the Andean Trade Preferences and Drugs Eradication Act permits certain products from Peru and Colombia, including asparagus, to be imported to the United States tariff-free….
Meanwhile, the Washington [state] industry is a shadow of its former self. Acreage has been cut by 71 percent to just 9,000 acres.
Scott Morgan adds:
Notwithstanding divergent views on free trade among our readership, I'm sure we can all agree that tariffs shouldn't be arbitrarily lifted in support of a failed drug war policy in Peru. Any success achieved in South America (there hasn't been any, but bear with me) must be measured against the sacrifices American farmers are forced against their will to make. Factoring this against ONDCP's otherwise already pathetic claims of progress leaves a worse taste in one's mouth than that of canned asparagus.
The readership at Hit & Run is, of course, far more favorable to free trade than STDW's may be. And it's always a good thing to slip free of a tariff. But the main point of Morgan's post–the law of unintended consequences is particularly strong when it comes to prohibition–is tough to miss. As is the truth of his insistence that the folks calling the shots in the drug war are idiots.
Headline explanation here.